NEW YORK—The man accused of slaying his cousin’s wife and four young children with a butcher’s knife in Sunset Park Saturday night, appeared in Brooklyn Criminal Court Monday for arraignment.
Mingdong Chen, 25, an undocumented Chinese immigrant, faces charges of murder in the first degree, five counts of murder in the second degree, and one count of criminal possession of a weapon.
Chen will be held without bail until Friday, Nov. 1, when he is expected to appear before a grand jury that will decide whether to indict him.
Chen’s defense attorney, Danielle Eaddy, declined to comment on the case.
Chen also faces several assault charges for allegedly attacking two police officers who were translating for Chen after he was taken into custody. Chen only speaks Chinese.
According to court documents, Chen, through a translator admitted to killing his cousin’s wife and four children with a knife. He was quoted as telling a relative, “I know I am done.”
Police said that Chen stabbed and slashed the necks and torsos of the victims: 37-year-old Qiao Zhen Li and her children, Linda Zhuo, 9; Amy Zhuo, 7; Kevin Zhuo, 5; and 18-month-old William Zhuo.
Their bloody bodies were found in the family’s apartment on the first floor of a two-story brick house at roughly 10:40 p.m. Saturday.
“It’s a scene you’ll never forget,” said Chief of Department Philip Banks III.
Chen had been staying with the family in their apartment for about a week. One neighbor, Ms. Cheng, said she had seen the man outside the family’s home for the past two–three months, smoking cigarettes and talking on the phone.
Media reports suggested that the murdered woman had asked him to move out, and that he had recently been fired from a restaurant in Sunset Park.
Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale said Chen was a transient and illegally in the United States. An immigration hold was placed on him.
Police said Chen was envious of fellow immigrants’ success in America.
“He made a very soft comment that since he came to this country, everybody seems to be doing better than him,” Banks said Sunday.
Chen was unemployed after being fired from a string of restaurant jobs he held for just a few weeks at a time, according to neighbors and relatives in the working-class Brooklyn neighborhood dominated by a large community of immigrants from China.
The children’s father, Chen’s cousin, was not home late Saturday evening; he was working at a Long Island restaurant, one neighbor said. The mother tried to call him because she was alarmed about Chen’s behavior earlier in the evening, police said.
Neighbors and relatives said the father was distraught over the deaths.
Chen attacked police officers during interrogations, police said. At around 1:20 a.m. Sunday, an officer was attempting to translate for the Chen. Chen took the officer’s eyeglasses and threw them at the officer’s chest, and the glasses then fell to the ground.
As police tried to subdue the man, the officer who had been translating suffered an injury to his ankle, which caused him substantial pain, according allegations made in court documents.
At around 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Chen punched and kicked another officer, who had been questioning him. He hit the officer’s body and arms, injuring the officer’s wrist during the altercation. The officer was treated at a local hospital.